This week, we have a look at the beginning of President Barack Obama and the Obama family, along with a supervillain disaster leading the charge of Blu-ray and DVD releases. They’re some of the highlights today, though hardly the only titles of note hitting shelves. It’s a slate like many others, not lacking in quantity but only sporadic when it comes to the quality.
The top pick today wasn’t a hard choice either. For the PICK OF THE WEEK, it was almost a small scale indie by default. You’ll see which one it is shortly, though before we get to that, we must of course first start with a Vintage pick!
In honor of this week’s release of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the last Episode installment is an obvious Vintage pick. Yes, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” gets the call here. Obvious, right? One of the best sequels in some time, our own Clayton Davis raved about it in this review, saying the following:
With newly minted director J.J. Abrams, the film hawks back to everything that has made the previous films so special, while reinventing itself with a new identity to exist in today’s cinematic climate. Better than any of the prequels instituted fifteen years ago, ‘The Force Awakens’ is not only a taut franchise reborn, it’s a full on emotional drama that has the power to move you.
If you’re a fan, this is a holiday week to you, so just do what comes naturally and revisit the franchise!
“The Ladies of the House”
This throwback horror film is a nasty little delight. Genre fans should really dig discovering this one from John Stuart Wildman and his partner Justina Walford. Here’s what we had to say about it in a review on the site last year:
An independent horror film that Quentin Tarantino would almost certainly champion and love if he were to come across it, ‘The Ladies of the House’ is exploitation at its most enjoyable and a potential cult classic in the making.
Wildman knows how to do grindhouse, so if that’s your thing, be sure to check this one out!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: N/A
Major Awards: None
Special Criterion Collection Section
“The Asphalt Jungle”
This John Huston selection for the collection is one that’s pretty easy to get behind. Time Out heaps some high praise on it, stating:
John Huston’s greatest noir thriller.
If you like Huston, this should be one to own.
A Federico Fellini film is the other title getting the Criterion treatment this week. Roger Ebert once praised it, writing:
Fellini isn’t just giving us a lot of flashy scenes, he’s building a narrative that has a city for its protagonist instead of a single character.
Another solid option from Criterion!
Other Films Being Released
Here now is just a simple list of what else is hitting shelves today, before we get to the Obama-centric top pick:
“Bridget Jones’s Baby”
A long gestating sequel really only meant for long standing fans of the franchise. This review on CNN really does sum it up well:
Sweet, slight and fitfully funny, it’s a movie admirers of the earlier films should mildly enjoy, but cast in terms any new parent can understand, isn’t worth the price of a sitter.
If you’re not a fan, you likely need not apply.
Box Office: $24,139,805
This financial drama received some very respectable reviews earlier this year. Among them was the following take from indieWIRE, which says:
What makes this such a vital feminist film, even when its other qualities are often few and far between, is how defiantly it internalizes the idea that strong female characters have nothing to do with decency, and everything to do with depth.
Anna Gunn was originally a dark horse awards contender as the precursors began. That hasn’t come to pass, but her film is out now and could be a solid option to check out.
Box Office: $1,605,463
Despite the success of “Love is Strange,” this new film from Ira Sachs flew very much below the radar. At the same time, critically it was beloved. Furthermore, it’s one of the best reviewed movies of 2016 so far. Here’s a bit from a rave that Rolling Stone put out:
It’s time to realize that Ira Sachs is a modern master. ‘Little Men,’ with its two boys racing at life with the brick wall of maturity still at a distance, is truly an exhilarating gift.
Sounds like one to definitely catch up on!
Box Office: $702,537
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
Tim Burton‘s latest met with a decidedly mixed following. Here’s one take from The AV Club that wasn’t particularly positive:
For all of Burton’s twisted touches, the film adheres to the storytelling template of the worst YA: the endless mythology, the tired boy-meets-girl romance, the boring self-actualization arc.
On to the next one for Burton, it seems.
Box Office: $86,426,085 (and counting)
My how this movie wanted to be 2016’s “Ex Machina.” Instead, it’s just kind of crummy, wasting a strong cast. The Wall Street Journal agreed in their review, stating:
The film, directed by Luke Scott and laden with high-tech eye candy, should have been a lot more complex and psychologically interesting than it is.
Such a waste of talent. What a shame.
Box Office: $3,915,251
What a disaster! Especially considering the early promotional material, expectations were high. Alas. This was a terrible film, easily one of the year’s worst. It makes “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” look like “The Dark Knight” by comparison. In addition, it was barely even coherent. Sigh. From our pan of a review on the site:
This is an atrociously bad movie, one that’s misguided from the start and only gets worse, not better.
Avoid this one at all costs. You deserve more.
Box Office: $325,100,054
“American Gothic (2016): Season One”
“Death in Paradise: Season 5”
“Degrassi High: The Complete Series”
“Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season”
“Harley & The Davidsons”
“Newhart: The Complete Seventh Season”
“Star Trek the Original Series: The Roddenberry Vault”
“The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series”
PICK OF THE WEEK
“Southside With You”
A charming little film with the added kick of being about the courtship of Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson, there’s a lot to like here. Now, it’s less an Obama origin story than just a romantic date flick, so keep that mind. That being said, it has great chemistry between the leads and the added subtext certainly elevates things. Don’t expect an Obama biopic. Instead, expect something closer to “Before Sunrise.” Slate had this to say in their review:
Though it’s barely 84 minutes long, this buoyant yet reflective movie captures the ever-shifting mood of a daylong encounter that changed both its protagonists’ lives.
If you’re at all curious about President Obama and his more formative years, or just love a good romance, this is one to pick up.
Special Features: Audio Commentary
Total Box Office: $6,304,223
Major Award: None yet